Seven Tips to Create or Find Respite Care
By Trish Hughes Kreis for Assisted Living Directory
Once a caregiver has recognized the need for a respite the next step is to find a way to get it! Fortunately, caregivers are not only flexible but creative. This is helpful during caregiving as well as when trying to take advantage of a little respite.
A companion video for this article, Trish talks about how a tired caregiver can find respite care, including ways to help cover the cost (sometimes through Medicare, or through the V.A. or Veterans Administration):
Respite typically means a complete break from caregiving and these tips will help you get that break. A complete break is not always possible yet some sort of a break may be exactly what a caregiver needs.
These seven tips will help caregivers in either situation.
- Long-term Respite. The caregiver may not realize the respite resources available to them. Check with any program the caree is involved with to see if respite care or even a day program is available to them. Disabled adults may eligible for community resources and respite through their case manager. Medicare generally does not pay for respite care but it is paid for when the caree is under hospice care through Medicare. Medi-Cal (the California version of Medicaid) will cover in-home supportive services. Check out the Family Caregiver Alliance State by State help for Family Caregivers for more information on resources available.
- Respite for Veterans. A variety of respite programs are available to veterans and their caregivers through the Veteran’s Administration. Whether it is for home health assistance, a day program or a short-term stay at a community living center or a combination of these services, veterans and their caregivers can take advantage of respite. More information can be found here but also contact the veteran’s case manager for the specific benefits for which he or she is eligible.
- In-home Respite Care. If a caregiver cares for their caree in their home it may seem like an intrusion to have another person in the home taking care of the caree. As someone in this situation, I understand thinking that if I am at home, I may as well do the tasks myself. However, there are in-home service providers who can provide care for the caree while the caregiver takes a break.
- Private Pay Respite. When the caree is not eligible for government programs, private pay respite may be the only alternative. Many Skilled Nursing Facilities, Memory Care Facilities as well as Assisted Living Facilities provide respite care with a variety of care options. Respite Care services are listed under many of the facilities included in the Assisted Living Directory. In addition, many Board and Care homes may have short-term availability for respite care and may be willing to work out a private pay alternative if the caree is not eligible through other programs. Private pay may seem cost-prohibitive. It is definitely expensive but one way to make this affordable is if there are other family members willing to pay for a portion of the cost. It is worth asking the rest of the family to share the cost of a respite stay. Family situations are unique so this may not always work but it is worth considering.
- Create Your Own Respite. Declare a weekend “respite weekend.” Maybe the caree usually goes to a Day Program while the caregiver works outside of the home. The caregiver can take advantage of this and take a day off from work in order to have some much needed rest. Ask a friend or relative to stay with your caree once they are in bed for the night so you can see a movie or go out to dinner. Carees enjoy respite too so change the routine a bit. After enjoying a day off from work and a night out for dinner, take the caree to the park or a movie for a change of scenery.
- Your Own Respite Oasis. There are plenty of caregivers who absolutely do not have respite options available to them. It is still possible to create your own special place in order to take a break and feed your soul. Pick a room or even a small corner in the house (or apartment, mobile home – wherever you live) and declare it yours. This is going to be a place that is free of caregiving supplies and full of what the caregiver needs to have a moment of peace. Do you have grandkids you adore? Put a few pictures of them in your space. Do you paint? Pull out those art supplies and put them in your space. Do you like to read? Pull a chair into the corner and add a lamp and table with a few books that have been on the wish list. Add a favorite mug to your area so you are reminded to make yourself some tea (or something stronger) when needed. The idea is for the caregiver to create a space that is just for them. A place to retreat to for an instant feeling of calm. A place to nourish the soul and regroup when the stresses of caregiving are just too much.
- Have an Attitude of Respite. My own recent experience with respite could have been declared disastrous. We had a Board and Care home set up, hotel reservations made (complete with chocolate covered strawberries) and dinner plans. Unfortunately, the home cancelled a few days before our planned respite. Sure, I was deeply disappointed but decided to make it a weekend of respite anyway! We used some of the ideas listed here to create our own respite and not only did we enjoy our weekend but so did my brother, Robert.
It is important for everyone to get a little (or long) break when caregiving. The extra work of creating a respite or finding respite care may seem daunting but it will be well worth the time and effort.
Breathing will be a little easier, patience will return and the caregiver can tackle the tasks at hand with renewed vigor and energy.
Enjoy your respite!
See Trish’s previous post – Seven Signs A Caregiver Needs Respite.
Photo by B. Walker